Hitting the Road

We are so happy to be a part of this excellent program and Janine said it best with, “Biking is just a typical thing kids do. Every kid wants to ride a bike. It’s freedom.”

 

 

 

From The Edmonton Journal:

EDMONTON – Dozens of children with special needs will get a taste of summer freedom because of an adapted bicycle program that’s picking up speed in its second year of operation.

The You Can Ride Too volunteer-run program began in 2013, loaning out 40 bikes in its first year. Founder Janine Halayko expects to loan out at least 70 bikes this season.

On Saturday, about 36 children were fitted with a bike at the Elves Special Needs Society’s Adult and Youth Centre in west Edmonton. The centre bustled with bike mechanics, therapists, parents and, most importantly, excited kids itching to get out for a ride.

“It’s a service that every community should provide,” Halayko said Saturday. “Why shouldn’t we allow everyone to ride a bike? When we pool our resources, we can make it happen.”

The free program is a partnership between pediatric physiotherapists and occupational therapists and the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Society. Parents pay a refundable $100 deposit for a bicycle, which the child gets to use for the year.

Children can swap bikes year to year as their needs change. “You can adapt as the child grows,” said mom Connie Baxter, whose son Darian, 14, was also in the program last year. “And the family remains active.”

Gibson Glavin’s son Andrew, 12, refused to even sit on a bike before the Saturday fitting, but when the team got him in the saddle, Andrew’s face lit up.

“We’d like him to able to ride a bike for the independence, largely, and the exercise,” Glavin said. “It’d be great if he could ride a bike around the block by himself.”

“Biking is just a typical thing kids do. Every kid wants to ride a bike. It’s freedom,” Halayko said.

Viktorya Bourke, 17, is currently restricted to a wheelchair because of Dandy-Walker syndrome, a rare congenital brain malformation. Through the program, the teen now has a bright yellow recumbent three-wheeled bike, which she’ll be able to ride at the family farm and in school to help build lower body strength. Eventually, Viktorya may build enough strength to walk with a mobility device, her mother Leah Bourke said.

The bike is “awesome,” Viktorya said, beaming, and gave a thumbs up.

“I can’t wait to get it home and try it out,” her mom said.

ewithey@edmontonjournal.com